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     Readers look for it whenever they open a book. It's more than a new story. They want something special. They're looking for what I call 'Goldilocks moments.' It's the reading experience that goes beyond the okay or the adequate and becomes just right.
     Christopher Barzak writes fiction that's filled with Goldilocks moments.

     After publishing two well-received novels (One for Sorrow, The Love We Share Without Knowing) readers may now explore some of his shorter works just published in the new story collection Before And Afterlives.

     Reading these tales is akin to consuming a literary banquet. You will be rewarded with the rich blend of fine, often lyrical writing, touches of the otherworldly (i.e. ghosts, mermaids, etc.), subtle plotting and characters you'll identify with, people who will touch your heart.

Highlights include:"The Drowned Mermaid"  A woman tries to nurse an injured mermaid back to health while struggling with the absence of her missing daughter.

"What We Know About the Lost Families of ---- House"  A house where residents may enter, but have trouble leaving.

"Plenty"  A kind, elderly woman helps provide for the needs of others in her community without visible means of support.

"The Ghost Hunter's Beautiful Daughter"  A father exploits the talents of his daughter for personal gain, talents that attract the attention of the undead.

"The Language of Moths"  A scientist drags his reluctant family into a stay in the woods, searching for an elusive species of moth he once glimpsed long ago, marking a journey of discovery for his two children as well.

     The collection also contains a story I consider a masterpiece.Each detail, every word and description build images and emotions that linger in the mind and heart long after reading.

"The Boy Who Was Born Wrapped in Barbed Wire" is a beautiful and terrible tale of a child born with a unique affliction. Easily the most lyrical of the collection, the story overflows with joy and sorrow, blood and laughter, love and loss. It is thought provoking and emotional. It reminded me of a story Flannery O'Connor might have written. I was dazzled, moved by it's beauty and brought to tears at it's conclusion. Wow!

Here's a taste: "...it would be lying to say he did not long for a friend. For someone to at least confide in. Day after day he sat on the teeter-totter during recess, waiting for someone to climb onto the side opposite, someone whose weight would lift him high into the air."

Come on and get your own Goldilocks moments courtesy of Christopher Barzak. Available now.